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Spectator competition winners: ‘Alex Salmond/has been grilled, gutted and gammoned…’: clerihews about contemporary politicians

25 June 2017

9:45 AM

25 June 2017

9:45 AM

Everyone loves a clerihew, its seems. The request for ones about contemporary politicians drew an enormous and excellent entry — from veterans and newbies alike — and even included a couple of limericks for good measure.

For the avoidance of doubt, the clerihew is a comic four-line (AABB) poem characterised by metrical irregularity and awkward rhyme. Here’s an example from — who better? — the form’s inventor, E.C. Bentley:

Sir Humphry Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.

Popular rhymes included ‘charmer’ and ‘Starmer’; ‘Boris’ and ‘Horace’; ‘Sturgeon’ and ‘burgeon’; ‘Corbyn’ and ‘absorbing’. Putin likes to ‘put the boot in’, apparently, and that David Davis is, by common consent, a ‘rara avis’.

Dr Bob Turvey and Jerry Emery submitted strikingly similar clerihews — one about Donald Trump; the other Diane Abbott — whose third and fourth lines ran roughly as follows: ‘When he opens his mouth/ his brain goes south’.

There was much to admire and it was tricky to sift the best from the merely good. Those that made the cut are printed below and earn their authors £8 each. Commiserations to the rest.

Frank McDonald
Alex Salmond
Has been grilled, gutted and gammoned
And got porridge poured over his wee bit of glory
By a big evil Tory.

David Silverman
Ed Balls
Rises and falls:
They say he’s a Blairite
Fred Astaire-ite

D.A. Prince
Angela Merkel
is one of the (small) magic circle
whose country rates ’em
as statesmen.


Nicholas Stone
Ian Paisley
Ranted crazily.
But is Ian Paisley junior
Loonier?

Iain Morley
Theresa May
No longer holds sway —
For seeing off Corbyn and his iffy cult
Proved too BLOODY DIFFICULT.

Chris O’Carroll
Justin Trudeau
Looks like a great North American leader, although,
To be fair, the guy next door
Has made that easier than it was before.

Brian Murdoch
To where has Diane Abbott
Got?
‘No idea’, said Theresa,
Glancing at her freezer.

John Oxley
Lady Nugee
Is far richer than me,
But to seem ordinary,
She goes by Thornberry.

Adrian Fry
Yvette Cooper
Made not a single blooper,
In the election campaign, reckoning it wiser to be
      invisible
Than risible.

Alex Galloway
Ben Gummer
Couldn’t be glummer.
It’s not much fun
Being John Selwyn’s son.

Bill Greenwell
Jacob Rees-Mogg
Is a Thunderer sprog:
But his manner is less irate
And he lives in 1798.

Frank Upton
Mike Pence
Is considered in the future tense
Should Trump
Go bump.

Basil Ransome-Davies
Donald Trump
Resembles a lump
Of misshapen fat
Topped by an overweight bottle-blond rat.

W.J. Webster
Angela Merkel
Squares a circle by producing a squircle:
As her party trick
It seems to click.

Tim Raikes
Angela Merkel’s
Inner circle
Would never choose
Theresa’s shoes.

Carolyn Beckingham
‘Should I dye my hair auburn?’
Asks Jeremy Corbyn,
‘Or should it be red
Instead?’

Rob Stuart
Nicola Sturgeon
Is a would-be political surgeon
Who’d gladly affect a wee
Rest-of-the-UK-ectomy.

Nick Hodgson
Mike Pence
Waits in suspense,
Hoping that they’ll dump
Trump.

Brian Allgar
Emmanuel Macron
Wears suits made of dacron.
OK, I made that up, but President Macron’s chief
      crime
Is that he doesn’t rhyme.

Sylvia Fairley
Nicola Sturgeon
Thinks that Scotland needs purgin’,
She can’t wait to see the backs
Of the Sassenachs.

Your next challenge is to submit a sonnet that takes as its opening line Keats’s ‘Why did I laugh tonight? No voice will tell:’. Please email entries, wherever possible, to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 5 July.


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